Previously on Survivor, Ulong lost immunity, Kim was lazy, Angie’s bra proved inadequate to the task, James muttered unintelligible colloquialisms, and Tom carried the Koror tribe around on his back. In other words, same thing as all the other episodes. Oh, and Jeff hurt his ankle and did a self-sacrificial kamikaze boot.
That brings us up to…. Night 8 at Ulong. The Ulongians have just returned from tribal council and are grumbling about their dwindling numbers. From the way they’re whining, you’d think they were being randomly snatched out of camp by a giant bird, instead of actually doing this to themselves by losing.
James, master of the obvious, says that Koror has a better immunity strategy, but that it won’t work this week. Oh, no. This week Ulong will win, and he, James, will personally “stomp anybody’s ass that lags.” As motivational speeches go, I’ve heard worse. As ironic foreshadowing goes, I’ve heard better.
All Indians, No Chief
Day 9, Koror
Free of the self-flagellation Ulong is enduring, the winning Kororians – who haven’t voted off a single tribe member yet – are one big happy family. Or are they? <-- said in voice of doom.
They receive tree mail that says they must choose one tribe member as their representative. There can be only one. That member will make some mysterious choice, and the rest of them will just have to suck it up and live with it.
All the gung-ho Koror peeps volunteer to be the One, but the loudest people are leaning toward Ian the Gangly. And thus is exposed a rift in the team: Coby volunteered, but says no one was listening to him. By “no one” he seems to mean “Tom,” since Tom seems to get the final word on everything. Members of Tom’s gang, according to Coby, are Ian, Katie, Gregg, and Jennifer. That leaves Coby, Janu, Caryn and Willard as the opposing faction. “It’s obvious we’re the underdogs here,” Coby says. I would think that should be obvious to anyone who looked around at their team and found Willard on their side.
While Koror dispatched the task of choosing a representative with ease, Ulong is having a little more trouble. (Shocking.) Remember back when James gleefully said they weren’t going to have a leader, they were going to “do” democracy? Yeah, well, the thing is, even democracies elect leaders. What Ulong has is anarchy. Not only does no one want to volunteer to be the representative, no one can even decide how they should choose a representative. Draw names from a hat? Draw straws? We don’t know! Gah, the pressure! These are the sort of people that, if asked where they wanted to go eat, would drive you crazy with their “I don’t care, anywhere is fine” crap, when you know if you suggest Italian they’ll want Chinese.
Typical of such people, they decide to just get in the car – or in this case, canoe – and decide what to do once they are confronted with an actual restaurant – or in this case, Jeff Probst.
Loo of the Year Award
Speaking of Jeff Probst, he is currently standing in a zippy World-War-II-style speedboat (probably the sort of modern motorized vehicle that’s made to look retro, sort of like the new Beetle or the MiniCooper). The wind ruffles his hair artfully, and he stands with feet apart for balance, much as my cousins and I used to do in the back of my grandfather’s pick-up truck as we tried to see who could stand up without holding on the longest (yes, this would be while the truck was moving. My entire family is a Darwin award waiting to happen.)
Behind Jeff is a big box with a prominently-displayed Home Depot logo. He heads first for Koror, where he explains what’s going on: both tribes will build a bathroom, complete with toilet and shower and optional his-and-hers sinks. The team will be given lumber, rope, nails, a bush shower and curtain, and a toilet seat. Also, the Home Depot box is really a tool shed; Ian gets to choose six tools, which the team may keep. Luckily for Koror, Ian’s dad has a construction company, so he wisely chooses tools like an axe and a saw, instead of losing his head completely and choosing something useless like a pipe wrench.
The Survivor production crew’s builder, Jesse – who builds all these infernal challenges, meaning that he is expert in creating logs that roll and ropes that swing – will come back and judge their efforts. The winning team, with the best loo, will get Jesse and his construction crew back to build a top-notch shelter. Koror, which has been sleeping on twigs, drools in anticipation.
Because Koror has so many more people, they must sit three out – Jen, Coby and Janu. Wise to save Willard’s rest period for the immunity challenge, which is likely to involve more work than driving a nail.
At Ulong, the tribe is out fishing, also known as “sitting in the boat.” They return to shore just in time to encounter Jeff and the Home Depot Express. They respond to Jeff’s request for their chosen representative by shifting uncomfortably in their seats and looking off in different directions, as if they’ve just spotted a fascinating piece of driftwood. Plausible deniability doesn’t work with Jeff, though, and forced to choose a representative at once, Ulong decides to throw James to the dogs.
And lucky they did, since James is possibly the only one there with a working knowledge of construction. He greets the opened Home Depot box with a happy shout of “My stuff!” and lovingly picks out a hatchet/hammer and other tools. Sadly, the Home Depot box does not contain a pair of pants, which – looking at James’ dingy white shorts – I would say he needs.
Back at Koror, the tribe has drawn up a blueprint of their new lavatory, and the members are happily hammering, sawing, toting and nailing. They’re practically whistling while they work. Willard says (what?! Willard can speak?! Who knew?) that Tom and Ian are always careful to publicly praise each member of the tribe every day. And … is that supposed to be a bad thing? I can’t tell. I mean, as strategies go, being nice and supportive would certainly be, well, novel. Willard calls Tom the motor that makes the train run, so I guess he likes Tom. (Maybe he should tell Coby).
Caryn, on the other hand, says that everyone bows down to Tom and runs every little thing by him. Well, Caryn, let’s see – Tom is strong, decisive and has played a large role in winning the challenges and getting food. What has Caryn done? I think you’re looking at it.
At Ulong, the tribe is taking highly scientific measurements, judged by James’ need for elbow room and his hover-position estimation of the necessary toilet height. In fact, not only is the new bathroom specifically tailored TO James, it’s tailored BY James; he has nailed a stake in the heart of democracy, at least temporarily, and is most definitely In Charge of this challenge. This irks Angie, who rolls her eyes at James’ offer to help her nail something.
Approximately 13 minutes into the challenge (ok, I’m guesstimating here) Kim announces that she’s weak and needs food. The rest of the tribe roll their eyes and wonder what Kim could possibly have done to burn off breakfast. James says that’s just fine, Kim can go sew something, as that’s something she can do while sitting on her ass.
Kim’s needle-threading exertions are contrasted with Bobby Jon, who has taken the axe and actually chopped down a tree. While James had doubts about Angie’s ability to hit a nail, he does not seem to doubt whether Bobby Jon knows to chop down a tree. Luckily for us all, and for Bobby Jon’s future modeling career, he appears to indeed know this skill – at least, the tree doesn’t fall on his head. Actually, it doesn’t fall anywhere, since the top branches get tangled in some other trees. Bobby Jon emits loud and frightening grunts trying to dislodge it – which Kim hears as she sits comfortably in the sand.
Kim says it sucks to be on a team with such gung-ho people who would bleed to death rather than quit. Because, you know, when you’re living on a deserted tropical island with no food and no shelter, competing for a million dollars, what you really want are laid-back people who pace themselves and take it easy. Kim thinks she’s the smart one of the team, sitting in the middle while the rest of them run around pointlessly. If she’s so smart, you’d think she’d have picked up on the “Kim is a lazy-ass” vibe and done something to ingratiate herself.
Surely – surely – Kim has some sort of redeeming skill that we just aren’t seeing. Because I really don’t understand how she got on this show otherwise. Either A)she expended all her energy on actually getting on the show, and has nothing left with which to play the game, or B)she is an ace hunter and the island is just sadly devoid of wildlife on which to prove herself, or C)she was recruited onto the show solely for her near-superhuman ability to sit perfectly still and gaze idly into the distance for days on end.
On toilet detail, tempers are starting to flare. James says the reason construction jobs don’t get done on time is that people freak out. Really? I thought it was because of bad weather or late-arriving materials. My bad. By this point, everyone appears tired of the project (or of King James), because when James hops onto the toilet seat and generously invites all and sundry to come sit on the potty, people act as though they’ve just discovered a highly interesting hangnail that must be examined right now.
Day 10, Koror
Jesse arrives for the Judging of the Loos. The Koror tribe takes him through their construction process as though they’re all on Wickedly Perfect. The tribe built a door-less toilet – wise? We shall see, although hopefully we shan’t – and put their shower down a different path. I applaud those logistics. This is a tribe that hunts poisonous snakes and sharks, for pete’s sake. God only knows what kind of gastrointestinal distress they might find themselves in, but surely privacy will come in handy.
Koror rigged up their shower from a tree – to adjust to their different heights – and Ian gives a demonstration. Jesse says it all looks good, and as he makes notes on a fancy-schmancy clipboard that he probably built from Palau wood, Jeff tells the tribe that they’ll know if they win, because Jesse and his construction crew will return by sundown to build the super-shelter.
At Ulong, the tribe is putting the finishing touches – such as nails – on the bathroom as the judgment boat arrives. Quickly tossing a shovel into the forest, hiding the bong and forcing Angie to not exhale, Ulong presents a picture of “we weren’t doing anything” innocence.
As Ulong built their entire bathroom right there on the beach, the tour goes quickly – it mostly involves saying, “Well, there’s the bathroom,” a task performed ably by James. On the toilet lid, those witty Ulongs have left a message: “For a good time, call Jeff Probst.” Amused – or at least pretending to be – by being the subject of Palau’s first bathroom graffiti, Jeff chuckles gamely and says he hopes they got the right number. When the tribe turns their backs, Jeff whips out a marker and scratches out his name and carefully writes, “Jenna Jameson.” (Kidding. About Jeff, I mean.)
The Ulong bathroom comes complete with a washbasin area – including flower vase and toothbrush holder. The shower has a drain. But it’s all right there together, which suggests to me some lack of forethought on Ulong’s – or least James’ – part. Anyway, Jesse shakes the walls, testing for solidity, and then Ulong gets the same speech about how they’ll know by sundown if they won. James is convinced they did. He thinks Jeff and Jesse will be back in two to three hours.
Koror, meanwhile, is beginning to wonder how long they have to wait. Through the miracle of editing, they don’t have to wait at all! It’s instant gratification! The tribe cocks up its ears at the sound of a distant boat motor, and they all run to the beach as if expecting to be rescued. Spotting the Home Depot logo, Tom does a cartwheel. Is there any skill that man doesn’t have? I bet he’s cultivating bonsai trees at the campsite and doing scrimshaw on bits of conch shell.
Sure enough, Koror has won the challenge, title of Best Loo and a brand-spankin-new shelter. Jesse’s team quickly – it seems like – builds a wooden floor, a bamboo roof, and decorates the shelter with floor mats and a hammock and an oil lamp. Ian says it’s like the Taj Mahal of shelters; Katie says it’s more like a home. Jesse even brought some cold champagne for the tribe to celebrate. They drink, Tom and Ian waltz, and Caryn giggles loudly.
During all this, poor Ulong is scanning the horizon hopefully. They keep telling each other, like jilted lovers, “they’ll be back.” It’s not until full dark that the tribe accepts that Jesse has chosen the other tribe’s potty. James decides that this will be good for Ulong, because it will make the tribe mad enough to “run through them like a damn bulldozer,” which I assume is James-ese for “win the next challenge.”
Ulong’s bulldozing skills are about to be called for. The arrival of treemail informs the tribe that the next immunity challenge will call for balance and strength. Stephenie quickly spots it as some sort of gladiator-style challenge. She says she hates that it’s so down to the wire – if Ulong loses today, they’ll be five against nine. Which is just so much worse than six against nine.
James says Ulong must fight like wolverines, an odd choice of mascot, given that the wolverine is basically an overgrown weasel.
Both tribes arrive at the challenge, where a round platform has been built out in the water. Jeff takes the immunity idol back from Koror – why he bothers, I don’t know – and explains the rules. The tribes will be fighting one-on-one sumo-style on that platform. They’ll have large padded bags with which to hit each other; they must keep both hands on the bag, and are not allowed to use their feet as weapons. The point is to shove one’s opponent off the platform and into the water; the first team to get six points wins immunity. Koror silently pats themselves on the backs for not sitting out Willard last time. He and Ian and Katie will pass on this challenge. And James’ eyes light up, as this is bareknuckled, down-home rasslin’. This should be his chance to shine.
As there are only so many synonyms for “shove,” “hit,” and “push,” I’m just going to list the matches and who won.
1. Tom vs. Bobby Jon. Tom wins
2. Stephenie vs. Jen. Stephenie wins easily
3. Gregg vs. Ibrahem. Ibrahem loses his bag, his footing, and the match. (Guess those perfectly-toned muscles are just for show.)
4. Angie vs. Caryn. They eye each other like cats, then leap. Angie wins.
5. James vs. Coby. Coby wins.
6. Kim vs. Janu. Janu wins
7. Tom vs. Bobby Jon, rematch. Tom wins again.
8. Stephenie vs. Jen, rematch. Stephenie wins again.
9. Gregg vs. Ibrahem, rematch. This time Ibrahem actually is useful; he just gives one huge shove and Gregg’s in the water.
10. Angie vs. Caryn, rematch. Angie shoves her off, and shouts that Ulong is NOT going back to tribal council.
11. It’s 5 to 5, and whoever wins this one wins immunity. It’s James vs. Coby, rematch. And after a tough tussle …. Coby wins it, giving Koror immunity – again – and striking a blow for the gay community everywhere by managing to beat up a southern redneck.
And Koror wins immunity, leaving Ulong to hang their heads and, later, debate whether it was a kicking or a paddling situation. Koror yawns and accepts the immunity idol, which is old hat by now.
Kim Sits on the Beach, Part 738
Back at Ulong’s camp, everyone is upset, and the women blame James for their loss. James seems to be blaming the tricksey gay man. I hereby present to you James, in his own words: “I feel terrible to have my butt whupped by a homosexual. But a lot of gay folks are strong, man. They’re all working out at the gym and all.” Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, he’s here all week. <--this quote brought to you by Gold’s Gym.
Stephenie and Angie point out – to each other – that the women did their part in the challenge – if you don’t count Kim – and that the men were getting their butts handed to them.
James tells Kim that tonight, they’re not going to strategize, everyone should just go to tribal council and write a name down. (that being how tribal council, er, works.) I have no idea why James felt the need to say that, since it means nothing and Kim doesn’t believe it anyway. James tells us that they all know whose name is going down tonight, and that Kim sits on her butt and the only exercise she gets is when she raises her arm to drink coconut juice.
Whatever he meant to accomplish, James has managed to irk Kim. Lounging on the beach, she wanly vents her tepid anger to Stephenie. Steph points out that if Kim gets booted, it’ll be two women and three men, and that she and Angie will be in trouble. But, she adds privately, she’s fed up with Kim. Why no one seems to actually say to Kim, “we’re tired of your lazy ass” is beyond me. It’s not like they can’t catch up with her.
Kim say she’s willing to vote along a girl alliance and see the guys go, although who she thinks is going to fetch her coconuts if that happens, I don’t know.
Stephenie and Angie discuss the pros and cons of voting along gender lines. Angie says the women would have the upper hand if they vote off a man, but that it won’t do them much good if they lose the next immunity challenge through a lack of strength.
Throughout these discussions, Kim seems to have not moved an inch. You would think someone who actually wanted to save themselves from the chopping block would be motivated to at least go throw a stick on the fire, or do something to demonstrate usefulness, but no, Kim just keeps holding down the sand. She says the vote could go either way, because the group won’t make decisions until it’s time to actually pick up the pen.
The Weakest Link
It’s Ulong’s fourth straight visit to tribal council, and Jeff has decided this is the time to pour some salt in their wounds. He says he’s saved their seats from last time, and points out that Survivor has never had a team lose so much. Bobby Jon says, profoundly, “Things aren’t good. We’re bad,” suggesting that he’s in training to give football-coach media interviews.
Jeff then moves to accountability, and zeros in on Kim, asking who does the fishing. She explains that while the men fish, they all go out in the boat. And while the men fish, the rest of them sit in the boat. Jeff asks the question everyone is wondering: “How useful is that?” Obviously, the answer is, it isn’t.
Jeff also asks if the women would be self-sufficient or do they need the men? Stephenie says they could be self-sufficient if they had to be, while Angie brings up her ability to drive a nail and says the men think they’re delicate. I would venture to guess Angie hasn’t been considered delicate since, oh, say, her fourth tattoo. Bobby Jon says he’s learned that the women are “as strong or more stronger than me”, thus proving that the women are also more smarter.
Bobby Jon wants the women to pull their weight; he says if Kim could use a slingshot to go kill a bear, he’d want her to. A bear? What, is this “Lost” all of a sudden?
Moving on, Jeff asks James if he’s embarrassed to have had his ass kicked by Coby. The following is brought to you by our sponsor, Gold’s Gym: “I’m thinking, man, he’s a hairdresser, he doesn’t look like he’s got any muscle tone, I ought to be able to whup him,” James says. “I tell you what, that boy right there got an ass behind him.” Hm, sounds like there’s an ass right in front of us.
Jeff points out that the women – again, excluding Kim – did better at the challenge. Conveniently ignoring her own poor performance at the challenge – and, like, everything -- Kim says that if they’d had “stronger guys with a burning passion and control of that passion, we would not be here right now.” The tribe executes a collective eyeroll.
And, the vote: Kim. Duh. She makes the fourth person voted off Survivor Palau. The breakdown goes like this:
Bobby Jon: Kim
Kim blows her tribe a kiss goodbye, then – limp with the exertion that took – ambles down the path. Jeff says Ulong has got to do something to change the way things are going.
Next week on Survivor: Gregg and Jen (people on Koror, the boring team) get cosy, and Ulong gets lost, literally. And the game “takes an incredible turn,” which could mean anything from merge to cannibalism (They better watch out for that bony Janu.)
Rassle me at firstname.lastname@example.org